A clarinet player who also runs a health food store is frozen and brought back in the future by anti-government radicals in order to assist them in their attempts to overthrow an oppressive government. When he goes off on his own, he begins to explore this brave new world that has Orgasmatron booths to replace sex and confessional robots. –IMDb
Actor, director, screenwriter, and playwright Woody Allen redefined film comedy during the 1970s, bringing a new measure of sophistication and personal complexity to the form. Born Allen Stewart Konigsberg in Brooklyn, NY, on December 1, 1935, he adopted his stage name at the age of 17, and in 1953 enrolled in NYU’s film program, and soon dropping out of school to begin writing for comedian David Alber. Two years later, Allen graduated to writing for television; during his five-year in television, his efforts won him an Emmy nomination. He eventually decided to try his hand as a stand-up performer. After slowly gaining a reputation on the New York-club circuit, he became a frequent talk show guest and in 1964 issued his self-titled debut comedy LP. With 1966’s What’s Up, Tiger Lily?, a puckish re-tooling of a Japanese spy thriller complete with his own story line and dubbed English dialogue, he made his directorial debut. In 1969 Allen directed two short films for a CBS television special… read more
Somehow only the first of Allen’s pre-Annie Hall output that I’ve encountered in full, Sleeper boasts striking concept designs and sleek framing to compensate for its premature lack of comedic grace. In view of a retrospective critical lens however, its visuals, spray of irreverent gags and batty dystopia alone may not be enough to place this as one of his best works today. But in ultimately possessing the same, underlying neurosis, jazzy touches and its own share of iconic moments, it hardly proves any more hazardous to one’s health.
What it lacks in constant verbal wit this sci-fi parody makes up in pure imagination as Allen not only takes inspiration from silent slapstick films but also pokes fun at the past and the future with equal skill.
PBS broadcasts its 3½-hour doc tonight and tomorrow; Keaton’s memoir is on shelves now.